In the middle of April 2016 the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) stopped people returning to the recently liberated city of Ramadi. Religious and political leaders in Anbar had been encouraging people to move back to score political points even though it was completely unsafe. More than 200 people ended up dead and wounded as a result of IEDs left behind by the Islamic State. The time when people will be able to move back has just faced a major setback when the contract to clear the city was terminated.
Ramadi was freed at the beginning of February and almost immediately there were clerics and politicians calling on people to return even though the city was full of unexploded ordinance. Members of the Anbar and Khalidiya council warned that it could be two to six months before the city was cleared, but thousands of displaced were already flowing back into the city. It wasn’t until March that a U.S. company was contracted to remove the IEDs. Actual work didn’t begin until the end of April. By then over two hundred people had been killed and wounded in the city due to IEDs. Then in May it was reported that the American company had subcontracted its job to another firm that was not qualified to deal with explosives. That led to the deal being cancelled. The ISF and volunteers have been demining Ramadi as well, but there are far to few of them to deal with such a large area. That means it might be months more before the city is safe, and people can start rebuilding.
Kalin, Stephen, “Islamic State mines kill dozens of civilians returning to Ramadi,” Reuters, 4/22/16
Al Mada, “Break the siege on Haditha lowers prices and tempts the displaced to return..and the army surrounds Fallujah,” 5/12/16
- “Clearing mines in Ramadi needs two months .. And politics hinder freeing Garma,” 3/17/16
- “Al-Hmam accuse Daash leaders of being in Ramadi and rushing to return 19 thousand families,” 4/26/16
Reuters, “Iraqi military freezes civilians’ return to Ramadi over mine deaths,” 4/24/16
Sotaliraq, “Ramadi needs six months to remove improvised explosives devices and war waste in city,” 3/20/16